[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 134 (Friday, July 12, 2013)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 41891-41898]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-16725]


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DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY

Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau

27 CFR Part 9

[Docket No. TTB-2013-0008: Notice No. 139]
RIN 1513-AC02


Proposed Establishment of the Upper Hiwassee Highlands 
Viticultural Area

AGENCY: Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, Treasury.

ACTION: Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.

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SUMMARY: The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) proposes to 
establish the approximately 692-square mile ``Upper Hiwassee 
Highlands'' viticultural area in Cherokee and Clay Counties, North 
Carolina, and Towns, Union, and Fannin Counties, Georgia. The proposed 
viticultural area does not lie within or contain any other established 
viticultural area. TTB designates viticultural areas to allow vintners 
to better describe the origin of their wines and to allow consumers to 
better identify wines they may purchase. TTB invites comments on this 
proposed addition to its regulations.

DATES: Comments must be received by September 10, 2013.

ADDRESSES: Please send your comments on this notice to one of the 
following addresses (please note that TTB has a new address for 
comments submitted by U.S. mail):
     Internet: http://www.regulations.gov (via the online 
comment form for this notice as posted within Docket No. TTB-2013-0008 
at ``Regulations.gov,'' the Federal e-rulemaking portal);
     U.S. Mail: Director, Regulations and Rulings Division, 
Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, 1310 G Street NW., Box 12, 
Washington, DC 20005; or
     Hand Delivery/Courier In Lieu of Mail: Alcohol and Tobacco 
Tax and Trade Bureau, 1310 G Street NW., Suite 200-E, Washington, DC 
20005.
    See the Public Participation section of this notice for specific 
instructions and requirements for submitting comments, and for 
information on how to request a public hearing.
    You may view copies of this notice, selected supporting materials, 
and any comments that TTB receives about this proposal at http://www.regulations.gov within Docket No. TTB-2013-0008. A link to that 
docket is posted on the TTB Web site at http://www.ttb.gov/wine/wine-rulemaking.shtml under Notice No. 139. You also may view copies of this 
notice, all related petitions, maps, and other supporting materials, 
and any comments that TTB receives about this proposal by appointment 
at the TTB Information Resource Center, 1310 G Street NW., Washington, 
DC 20005. Please call 202-453-2270 to make an appointment.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Karen A. Thornton, Regulations and 
Rulings Division, Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, 1310 G 
Street NW., Box 12, Washington, DC 20005; phone 202-453-1039, ext. 175.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background on Viticultural Areas

TTB Authority

    Section 105(e) of the Federal Alcohol Administration Act (FAA Act), 
27 U.S.C. 205(e), authorizes the Secretary of the Treasury to prescribe 
regulations for the labeling of wine, distilled spirits, and malt 
beverages. The FAA Act provides that these regulations should, among 
other things, prohibit consumer deception and the use of misleading 
statements on labels, and ensure that labels provide the consumer with 
adequate information as to the identity and quality of the product. The 
Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) administers the FAA Act 
pursuant to section 1111(d) of the Homeland Security Act of 2002, 
codified at 6 U.S.C. 531(d). The Secretary has delegated various 
authorities through Treasury Department Order 120-01 (Revised), dated 
January 21, 2003, to the TTB Administrator to perform the functions and 
duties in the administration and enforcement of this law.
    Part 4 of the TTB regulations (27 CFR part 4) allows the 
establishment of definitive viticultural areas and the use of their 
names as appellations of origin on wine labels and in wine

[[Page 41892]]

advertisements. Part 9 of the TTB regulations (27 CFR part 9) sets 
forth standards for the preparation and submission of petitions for the 
establishment or modification of American viticultural areas and lists 
the approved American viticultural areas.

Definition

    Section 4.25(e)(1)(i) of the TTB regulations (27 CFR 4.25(e)(1)(i)) 
defines a viticultural area for American wine as a delimited grape-
growing region having distinguishing features as described in part 9 of 
the regulations and a name and a delineated boundary as established in 
part 9 of the regulations. These designations allow vintners and 
consumers to attribute a given quality, reputation, or other 
characteristic of a wine made from grapes grown in an area to its 
geographic origin. The establishment of viticultural areas allows 
vintners to describe more accurately the origin of their wines to 
consumers and helps consumers to identify wines they may purchase. 
Establishment of a viticultural area is neither an approval nor an 
endorsement by TTB of the wine produced in that area.

Requirements

    Section 4.25(e)(2) of the TTB regulations outlines the procedure 
for proposing an American viticultural area and provides that any 
interested party may petition TTB to establish a grape-growing region 
as a viticultural area. Section 9.12 of the TTB regulations (27 CFR 
9.12) prescribes standards for petitions for the establishment or 
modification of American viticultural areas. Petitions to establish a 
viticultural area must include the following:
     Evidence that the area within the proposed viticultural 
area boundary is nationally or locally known by the viticultural area 
name specified in the petition;
     An explanation of the basis for defining the boundary of 
the proposed viticultural area;
     A narrative description of the features of the proposed 
viticultural area that affect viticulture, such as climate, geology, 
soils, physical features, and elevation, that make the proposed 
viticultural area distinctive and distinguish it from adjacent areas 
outside the proposed viticultural area boundary;
     A copy of the appropriate United States Geological Survey 
(USGS) map(s) showing the location of the proposed viticultural area, 
with the boundary of the proposed viticultural area clearly drawn 
thereon; and
     A detailed narrative description of the proposed 
viticultural area boundary based on USGS map markings.

Upper Hiwassee Highlands Petition

    TTB received a petition from Eric Carlson, owner of Calaboose 
Cellars, on behalf of himself and members of the Vineyard and Winery 
Operators of the Upper Hiwassee River Basin group, proposing the 
establishment of the approximately 690-square mile ``Upper Hiwassee 
Highlands'' American viticultural area. The proposed viticultural area 
is located in portions of Cherokee and Clay Counties, North Carolina, 
and Towns, Union, and Fannin Counties, Georgia. The petition states 
that 26 commercial vineyards are located throughout the proposed 
viticultural area, growing approximately 54 acres of French-American 
hybrids, American grape varieties, and Vitis vinifera. According to the 
petition, present vineyard operators estimate they will expand their 
plantings by an additional 75.5 acres within the next 5 years. Two new 
vineyards are also in the planning stages and are expected to add an 
additional 16 acres to the total acreage by the end of 2013. Five 
wineries operate within the proposed viticultural area, and 4 
additional wineries are in the planning stages and expected to open by 
2014.
    According to the petition, the distinguishing features of the 
proposed Upper Hiwassee Highlands viticultural area include topography, 
temperature, and soils. Unless otherwise noted, all information and 
data pertaining to the proposed viticultural area contained in this 
document are from the petition for the proposed Upper Hiwassee 
Highlands viticultural area and its supporting exhibits.

Name Evidence

    The proposed Upper Hiwassee Highlands viticultural area is located 
in the southern Appalachian Mountains in portions of southwestern North 
Carolina and northwestern Georgia. According to the petition, 
``highland'' and ``highlands'' are traditional terms used to describe 
the high, rugged, regions of the southern portion of the Appalachians 
and are terms used by businesses and organizations within the proposed 
viticultural area. For example, the Southern Highland Craft Guild 
sponsors juried memberships to craftspeople in counties within the 
Appalachian Mountain areas of nine States, including all five counties 
within the proposed Upper Hiwassee Highlands viticultural area. The 
Southern Highlands Attractions organization hosts a Web page featuring 
travel attractions in the Appalachian regions of Virginia, Tennessee, 
North Carolina, and Georgia and includes locations within the proposed 
viticultural area (see www.southernhighlands.org). Additionally, an 
Internet search by TTB found the Blue Ridge Highlander online magazine 
and travel guide, which features events and entertainment venues within 
the Blue Ridge Mountain region, including the annual Taste of the 
Southern Highlands event in Hiawassee, Georgia, which is located within 
the proposed viticultural area (see www.blueridgehighlander.com.)
    Because the word ``highlands'' applies to a very broad region of 
the Appalachian Mountains, the petitioner chose to add the term ``Upper 
Hiwassee'' to the name of the proposed viticultural area to distinguish 
it geographically from the larger Appalachian region. The term ``Upper 
Hiwassee'' refers to the proposed viticultural area's location along 
the upper portions of the Hiwassee River, from the river's headwaters 
in Towns County, Georgia, to the Hiwassee Dam on Hiwassee Lake in 
Cherokee County, North Carolina. The portion of the river that flows 
north of the dam, outside the proposed viticultural area, is often 
referred to as the ``lower'' river.
    The name ``Hiwassee'' and its variant ``Hiawassee'' are used 
throughout the region of the proposed viticultural area. The town of 
Hiawassee, Georgia, is located within the proposed viticultural area in 
Towns County and is near the headwaters of the Hiwassee River. The 
Hiwassee River Watershed Coalition is a nonprofit organization whose 
mission is to facilitate water quality in streams and lakes 
``throughout the upper Hiwassee River watershed within Cherokee and 
Clay counties in North Carolina and Towns and Union counties in north 
Georgia.'' (See www.hrwc.net). The Hiwassee River Basin Directory is an 
online source of news and information for southwestern North Carolina, 
northwestern Georgia, southeastern Tennessee, including the region 
within the proposed Upper Hiwassee Highlands viticultural area (see 
www.hiwassee.us). The Hiwassee River Valley Kennel Club is located in 
Murphy, North Carolina, within the proposed viticultural area. Finally, 
a search by TTB of the USGS's Geographical Names Information System 
(GNIS; http://geonames.usgs.gov/index.html) found 13 locations and 
populated places within the proposed viticultural area that use the 
name ``Hiwassee,'' including a church and a mountain ridge in Towns 
County, Georgia, and a

[[Page 41893]]

school, fire department, dam, and cemetery in Cherokee County, North 
Carolina.

Boundary Evidence

    The proposed Upper Hiwassee Highlands viticultural area is a broad 
basin surrounded by high mountains. The Hiwassee River flows in a 
northwesterly direction through the proposed viticultural area, and the 
proposed boundary approximates the boundary of the watershed for the 
upper portion of the river.
    The northern, eastern, and southern portions of the proposed 
boundary follow the 2,400-foot elevation contour line, which was chosen 
because the highest vineyards within the proposed viticultural area are 
planted at elevations between 2,000 and 2,400 feet; above 2,400 feet, 
the climate and terrain is generally too steep and cold for commercial 
viticulture. The 2,400-foot elevation contour line also separates the 
lower elevations of the upper Hiwassee River watershed from the higher 
elevations of the Unicoi and Snowbird Mountains to the north, the 
Tusquitee and Nantahala Mountains to the east, and the Blue Ridge 
Mountains to the south.
    The western portion of the proposed boundary follows the boundary 
between Union and Fannin Counties, in Georgia, and a series of roads 
and straight lines drawn between points on the USGS maps. The proposed 
western boundary separates the upper Hiwassee River watershed of the 
proposed viticultural area from the Ocoee River watershed, as well as 
from the watershed for the lower portion of the Hiwassee River.

Distinguishing Features

    The distinguishing features of the proposed Upper Hiwassee 
Highlands viticultural area include topography, temperature, and soils.
Topography
    As previously noted, the proposed Upper Hiwassee Highlands 
viticultural area is a broad basin that encompasses the watershed for 
the upper portion of the Hiwassee River. The Hiwassee River has its 
headwaters in the southeast portion of the proposed viticultural area, 
near the town of Hiawassee, Georgia. The river flows northwesterly, 
exiting the proposed viticultural area at the Hiwassee Dam before 
continuing into Tennessee, where it joins with the Ocoee River and, 
eventually, the Tennessee River. Within the basin of the proposed 
viticultural area are mountains interspersed with broad valleys. The 
largest of these valleys runs southwest to northeast between the towns 
of Martins Creek and Andrews, North Carolina, along a geological 
feature known as the Murphy Belt Sequence. Most of the vineyards within 
the proposed viticultural area are planted in the valleys or on the 
gentle slopes of the lower elevations of the mountains.
    The proposed Upper Hiwassee Highlands viticultural area is bordered 
to the north, east, and south by higher, steeper mountains interspersed 
with narrow, deeply incised gorges. To the west, below the Hiwassee 
Dam, are a series of lower ridges, mountains, and deep, narrow river 
gorges that form the watershed for the Ocoee River and the lower 
portion of the Hiwassee River. The table below compares the mean 
elevation within the proposed viticultural area to the elevations of 
the surrounding regions.

                                        Table 1--Comparison of Elevation
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                                                                Direction from the proposed      Mean elevation
                           Region                                    viticultural area               (feet)
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Proposed Upper Hiwassee Highlands viticultural area........  N/A..............................             1,974
Unicoi and Snowbird Mountains..............................  North............................             3,303
Valley River and Tusquitee and Nantahala Mountains.........  East.............................             3,335
Blue Ridge Mountains.......................................  South............................             2,898
Ocoee River and lower Hiwassee River watersheds............  West.............................             1,849
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    In addition to having lower elevations than most of the surrounding 
regions, the proposed Upper Hiwassee Highlands viticultural area also 
has significantly shallower slope angles. According to the slope angle 
analysis included in the petition, approximately 70 percent of the 
slopes within the proposed viticultural area have angles between 0 and 
15 degrees, which is level enough to prevent erosion and gentle enough 
for safe and convenient manual and mechanical cultivation. Only 16 
percent of the slopes within the proposed viticultural area have slope 
angles greater than 20 percent. Slope angles greater than 20 degrees 
are unsafe for mechanical cultivation and make even manual vineyard 
work difficult.
    To the north of the proposed viticultural area, within the Unicoi 
and Snowbird Mountains, only 20 percent of the slopes are less than or 
equal to 15 degrees, and 62 percent are at angles greater than 20 
degrees. To the east, within the Valley River and the Tusquitee and 
Nantahala Mountains, only 23 percent of the slopes have angles less 
than or equal to 15 degrees, and 58 percent of the slopes have angles 
greater than 20 degrees. To the south, within the Blue Ridge Mountains, 
30 percent of the slopes have angles less than or equal to 15 degrees, 
and 47 percent of the slopes are over 20 degrees. To the west, in the 
watersheds of the Ocoee River and lower Hiwassee River, 63 percent of 
the slope angles are less than or equal to 15 degrees, and 21 percent 
of the slopes have angles greater than 20 degrees.
    The gentle mountain slopes and broad valleys of the proposed Upper 
Hiwassee Highlands viticultural area allow high amounts of solar 
radiation to reach the vineyards. By contrast, the surrounding regions 
are characterized by steep mountains and narrow, deeply incised gorges 
which restrict the amount of sunlight that reaches the lower, tillable 
mountainsides and valley floors; this effect is known as ``mountain 
shadowing.'' The table below compares the total and per-acre amounts of 
solar radiation accumulated within the proposed viticultural area and 
surrounding regions during the growing season (April through October), 
as measured in Watt-hours.\1\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \1\ Total Watt-hours and mean Watt-hours per acre were 
calculated using the Environmental Systems Research Institute's 
(ESRI) Spatial Analyst Solar Radiation function. The software 
calculates solar radiation accumulation using the latitude of the 
chosen location and the azimuth and elevation of the sun's track 
across the sky each month. Because the sun's track varies with the 
season, but does not change from year to year, the analysis is not 
tied to any specific year.

[[Page 41894]]



   Table 2--Comparison of Growing Season Solar Radiation Accumulation
                        [Measured in watt-hours]
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                     Total solar          Mean solar
             Region                   radiation        accumulation per
                                     accumulation            acre
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Proposed viticultural area.....  2.23x10\15\          5.05x10\9\
North..........................  6.72x10\14\          4.11x10\9\
East...........................  1.12x10\15\          4.41x10\9\
South..........................  7.04x10\14\          4.34x10\9\
West...........................  2.00x10\15\          4.77x10\9\
------------------------------------------------------------------------

    As shown in the table, both the total and the per-acre solar 
radiation accumulation within the proposed viticultural area are 
greater than those of all of the surrounding regions. The contrast is 
greatest between the region to the north and the proposed viticultural 
area, with the proposed viticultural area accumulating 3.32 times the 
amount of total solar radiation and 23 percent more solar radiation on 
a per-acre basis. High levels of solar radiation promote efficient 
photosynthesis in the vines and speed the ripening of fruit.
Temperature
    The proposed Upper Hiwassee Highlands viticultural area is warmer 
than the surrounding regions to the north, east, and south and slightly 
cooler than the region to the west. Because of the wide variety of 
elevations both within and outside the proposed viticultural area, the 
petitioner used the climate data mapping system created by the PRISM 
Climate Group at Oregon State University to estimate general climate 
patterns for the entire region.\2\ The climate normals used in the 
calculations were gathered from three weather stations within the 
proposed viticultural area and nine stations from the surrounding 
regions.\3\ The following table shows the mean annual and growing 
season temperatures calculated using the PRISM mapping system. The mean 
July temperature was also calculated because July represents the peak 
of the growing season.
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    \2\ The PRISM climate data mapping system combined climate 
normals gathered from weather stations, along with other factors 
such as elevation, longitude, slope angles, and solar aspect to 
estimate the general climate patterns for the proposed AVA and the 
surrounding regions. Climate normals are only calculated every 10 
years, using 30 years of data, and at the time the petition was 
submitted, the most recent climate normals available were from the 
period of 1971-2000.
    \3\ The weather stations used in the analysis are the same 
stations listed in Table 5.

                                    Table 3--Comparison of Mean Temperatures
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                                                                      Mean temperature (fahrenheit)
                                                        --------------------------------------------------------
                         Region                                               Growing season
                                                               Annual        (April-October)          July
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Proposed viticultural area.............................               53.5               64.9               73.2
North..................................................               51                 61                 69.7
East...................................................               50.3               61.7               69
South..................................................               51.6               62.4               70.6
West...................................................               55.9               65.3               73.8
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    The petitioner also used the climate data mapping system to 
determine the Winkler Region Classification \4\ for the various 
elevations within the proposed Upper Hiwassee Highlands viticultural 
area and the surrounding regions. The following table shows the 
classifications.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \4\ In the Winkler climate classification system, annual heat 
accumulation during the growing season, measured in annual growing 
degree days (GDD), defines climatic regions. One GDD accumulates for 
each degree Fahrenheit that a day's mean temperature is above 50 
degrees, the minimum temperature required for grapevine growth 
(``General Viticulture,'' by Albert J. Winkler, University of 
California Press, 1974, pages 61-64).

                              Table 4--Comparison of Winkler Region Classifications
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                                             Elevation range    Percentage of
                  Region                         (feet)             area          Winkler region classification
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Proposed viticultural area................       1,503-1,700               6.1  IV
                                                 1,700-2,300              83.6  III
                                                 2,300-2,400               6.3  II
                                                 2,400-3,655               4.0  I
North.....................................       2,400-3,100              45.1  II
                                                 3,100-5,554              54.9  I
East......................................       2,400-3,350              55.0  II
                                                 3,350-5,492              45.0  I
South.....................................       2,400-3,200              80.6  II
                                                 3,200-4,784              19.4  I
West......................................         837-1,600              14.8  IV
                                                 1,600-2,400              70.5  III
                                                 2,400-3,200              13.1  II

[[Page 41895]]

 
                                                 3,200-4,219               1.6  I
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    As shown in the table, the majority of the proposed viticultural 
area (84 percent) is classified as a moderately warm Region III climate 
in the Winkler climate classification system. The regions to the north, 
east, and south are classified as very cool Regions I and II. The 
region to the west is primarily a Region III, similar to the proposed 
viticultural area, although the region to the west does have a larger 
percentage of land in the very warm Region IV category than the 
proposed viticultural area.
    Finally, the petition included estimates of the average freeze-free 
period (also referred to as the growing season) for the proposed Upper 
Hiwassee Highlands viticultural area and the surrounding regions. The 
data was collected from the period between 1971 and 2000 \5\ from the 
same weather stations used to determine the mean annual and growing 
season temperatures.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \5\ At the time the petition was submitted, the only climate 
normal available for the weather stations were from the 1971-2000 
period.

               Table 5--Comparison of Freeze-Free Periods
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                               Average
                                          Direction from       freeze-
      Weather station location        proposed viticultural  free period
                                               area             (days)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Andrews, NC.........................  Within...............          168
Athens, TN..........................  Northwest............          190
Blairsville, GA.....................  Within...............          161
Cataloochee, NC.....................  Northeast............          151
Clayton, GA.........................  Southeast............          171
Copperhill, TN......................  West.................          173
Coweeta, NC.........................  East.................          160
Dahlonega, GA.......................  South................          193
Franklin, NC........................  East.................          165
Helen, GA...........................  South................          183
Murphy, NC..........................  Within...............          168
Oconaluftee, NC.....................  Northeast............          151
------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The three weather stations within the proposed viticultural area 
have average freeze-free periods that are generally shorter than those 
to the west, south, and southeast and longer than those to the 
northeast. Although the proposed viticultural area has freeze-free 
periods similar to those to the east, the area to the east still has 
cooler overall temperatures that distinguish the region from the 
proposed viticultural area.
    The moderately warm temperature of the proposed Upper Hiwassee 
Highlands viticultural area plays a role in the varieties of grapes 
that are grown. According to the petition, the climate is most suitable 
for growing French-American hybrids, which are grown in 17 of the 26 
vineyards within the proposed viticultural area and cover 49 percent of 
the total vineyard acres within the proposed viticultural area. 
Examples of these French-American hybrids include Chambourcin, 
Traminette, Seyval Blanc, and Vidal Blanc. American varieties, such as 
Norton, Catawba, and Concord, are also popular and are grown in 11 of 
the vineyards and cover approximately 14 percent of the total vineyard 
acres within the proposed viticultural area. Vitis vinifera varieties 
cover approximately 37 percent of the total vineyard acres within the 
proposed viticultural area, but according to the petition, only 1 of 
the 26 vineyards within the proposed viticultural area grows V. 
vinifera varieties exclusively, with a total of half an acre planted to 
Cabernet Sauvignon. By contrast, the petition notes that the V. 
vinifera varieties are the most common varieties grown in the 
surrounding regions. The Biltmore Vineyard, approximately 90 miles away 
in Asheville, North Carolina, is the nearest commercial vineyard to the 
north of the proposed viticultural area and grows V. vinifera 
exclusively, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Chardonnay. The 
nearest vineyards to the south, approximately 30 miles away in 
Dahlonega and Cleveland, Georgia, and to the west, in the Appalachian 
foothills of Tennessee, also primarily grow V. vinifera varieties, 
along with some American varieties. Commercial viticulture is not 
present in the region immediately to the east of the proposed 
viticultural area because the region is largely covered by the 
Nantahala National Forest.
Soils
    Nineteen soil associations have been mapped within the proposed 
Upper Hiwassee Highlands viticultural area, and 4 of these associations 
cover 77 percent of the land: Tsali-Spivey-Santeetlah-Junaluska (37 
percent), Saluda-Hayesville-Evard-Brevard-Bradson (20 percent), Evard-
Clifton-Braddock (11 percent), and Tusquitee-Porters-Edneyville-Ashe 
(10 percent). These soils are derived from metasedimentary rocks such 
as phyllites, slates, schists, metasandstones, and marble. They are 
generally deep, moderately to well drained, and moderately fertile. 
Deep soil allows for ample root growth to support the vines and collect 
water and nutrients. Well drained soil prevents waterlogging, which 
promotes rot and fungal growth. Moderately fertile soil provides 
adequate nutrition to the vines without promoting excessively thick 
leaf canopies that provide too much shade to the grape clusters; overly 
shaded fruit ripens slower than fruit with more sun exposure and is 
more susceptible to mold and mildew.
    To the north, within the Unicoi and Snowbird mountains, soils of 
the Stecoah-Spivey-Porters-Edneyville-Chestnut association are the most 
common (40 percent). To the east, within the Valley River and the 
Nantahala and Tusquitee Mountains, soils of the Tusquitee-Porters-
Fannin-Evard-Bervard-Ashe association are the most prevalent (40 
percent). The petition states that the soil to the north and east is 
shallower and more at risk for erosion because of the steepness of the 
terrain. The petition also states that the soil in these regions is 
likely to contain more organic material and be more fertile than the 
soil of the proposed viticultural area due to the large amounts of 
decaying leaves and other vegetative matter dropped from trees and 
shrubs in these heavily forested regions.
    To the south, within the Blue Ridge Mountains, and to the west, 
within the watersheds of the Ocoee River and lower Hiwassee River, the 
Tusquitee-Porters-Edneyville-Ashe association is the most common soil 
type (91 percent and 27 percent, respectively). The petition notes that 
although this soil association is also found within the proposed 
viticultural area, the soil to the south and west occurs on much 
steeper slopes and, therefore, is likely to be shallower and more at 
risk of erosion than the same soil series within the proposed 
viticultural area.

Summary of Distinguishing Features

    In summary, the evidence provided in the petition indicates that 
the

[[Page 41896]]

geographic features of the proposed Upper Hiwassee Highlands 
viticultural area distinguish it from the surrounding regions in each 
direction. To the north, east, and south, the elevations are higher, 
the temperatures are lower, and the most common soil associations are 
different from those in the proposed viticultural area, namely, 
Stecoah-Spivey-Porters-Edneyville-Chestnut, Tusquitee-Porters-Fannin-
Evard-Bervard-Ashe, and Tusquitee-Porters-Edneyville-Ashe, 
respectively. To the west, the elevations are lower, the temperatures 
are generally higher, and the most common soil association is 
Tusquitee-Porters-Edneyville-Ashe. All of the surrounding regions have 
steeper slope angles and accumulate less solar radiation than the 
proposed viticultural area.

TTB Determination

    TTB concludes that the petition to establish the approximately 692-
square mile Upper Hiwassee Highlands viticultural area merits 
consideration and public comment, as invited in this notice.

Boundary Description

    See the narrative boundary description of the petitioned-for 
viticultural area in the proposed regulatory text published at the end 
of this notice.

Maps

    The petitioner provided the required maps, and they are listed 
below in the proposed regulatory text.

Impact on Current Wine Labels

    Part 4 of the TTB regulations prohibits any label reference on a 
wine that indicates or implies an origin other than the wine's true 
place of origin. If TTB establishes this proposed viticultural area, 
its name, ``Upper Hiwassee Highlands,'' will be recognized as a name of 
viticultural significance under 27 CFR 4.39(i)(3). The text of the 
proposed regulation clarifies this point. Consequently, wine bottlers 
using the name ``Upper Hiwassee Highlands'' in a brand name, including 
a trademark, or in another label reference as to the origin of the 
wine, would have to ensure that the product is eligible to use the 
viticultural name as an appellation of origin if this proposed rule is 
adopted as a final rule.
    TTB does not believe that the terms ``Hiwassee,'' ``Hiwassee 
Highlands,'' or ``highlands,'' standing alone, should have viticultural 
significance if the proposed viticultural area is established. The term 
``Hiwassee'' has widespread use within the United States as a 
geographical name, used in reference to 37 locations in 5 States 
outside the proposed viticultural area, according to a GNIS search. The 
term ``highlands'' is commonly used both nationally and internationally 
as a generic term for a rugged, mountainous region. The phrase 
``Hiwassee Highlands'' applies not only to the region within the 
proposed viticultural area but also to the region immediately outside 
the proposed viticultural area, below the Hiwassee Dam. Accordingly, 
the proposed part 9 regulatory text set forth in this document 
specifies only the full name ``Upper Hiwassee Highlands'' as a term of 
viticultural significance for purposes of part 4 of the TTB 
regulations.
    For a wine to be labeled with a viticultural area name or with a 
brand name that includes a viticultural area name, at least 85 percent 
of the wine must be derived from grapes grown within the area 
represented by that name, and the wine must meet the other conditions 
listed in 27 CFR 4.25(e)(3). If the wine is not eligible for labeling 
with a viticultural area name and that name appears in the brand name, 
then the label is not in compliance and the bottler must change the 
brand name and obtain approval of a new label. Similarly, if the 
viticultural area name appears in another reference on the label in a 
misleading manner, the bottler would have to obtain approval of a new 
label.
    Different rules apply if a wine has a brand name containing a 
viticultural area name that was used as a brand name on a label 
approved before July 7, 1986. See 27 CFR 4.39(i)(2) for details.

Public Participation

Comments Invited

    TTB invites comments from interested members of the public on 
whether it should establish the proposed viticultural area. TTB is also 
interested in receiving comments on the sufficiency and accuracy of the 
name, boundary, soils, climate, and other required information 
submitted in support of the petition. Please provide any available 
specific information in support of your comments.
    Because of the potential impact of the establishment of the 
proposed Upper Hiwassee Highlands viticultural area on wine labels that 
include the term ``Upper Hiwassee Highlands'' as discussed above under 
Impact on Current Wine Labels, TTB is particularly interested in 
comments regarding whether there will be a conflict between the 
proposed area name and currently used brand names. If a commenter 
believes that a conflict will arise, the comment should describe the 
nature of that conflict, including any anticipated negative economic 
impact that approval of the proposed viticultural area will have on an 
existing viticultural enterprise. TTB is also interested in receiving 
suggestions for ways to avoid conflicts, for example, by adopting a 
modified or different name for the proposed viticultural area.

Submitting Comments

    You may submit comments on this notice by using one of the 
following three methods (please note that TTB has a new address for 
comments submitted by U.S. Mail):
     Federal e-Rulemaking Portal: You may send comments via the 
online comment form posted with this notice within Docket No. TTB-2013-
0008 on ``Regulations.gov,'' the Federal e-rulemaking portal, at http://www.regulations.gov. A direct link to that docket is available under 
Notice No. 139 on the TTB Web site at http://www.ttb.gov/wine/wine-rulemaking.shtml. Supplemental files may be attached to comments 
submitted via Regulations.gov. For complete instructions on how to use 
Regulations.gov, visit the site and click on the ``Help'' tab.
     U.S. Mail: You may send comments via postal mail to the 
Director, Regulations and Rulings Division, Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and 
Trade Bureau, 1310 G Street NW., Box 12, Washington, DC 20005.
     Hand Delivery/Courier: You may hand-carry your comments or 
have them hand-carried to the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, 
1310 G Street NW., Suite 200-E, Washington, DC 20005.
    Please submit your comments by the closing date shown above in this 
notice. Your comments must reference Notice No. 139 and include your 
name and mailing address. Your comments also must be made in English, 
be legible, and be written in language acceptable for public 
disclosure. TTB does not acknowledge receipt of comments, and TTB 
considers all comments as originals.
    In your comment, please clearly indicate if you are commenting on 
your own behalf or on behalf of an association, business, or other 
entity. If you are commenting on behalf of an entity, your comment must 
include the entity's name as well as your name and position title. If 
you comment via Regulations.gov, please enter the entity's name in the 
``Organization'' blank of the online comment form. If you comment via 
postal mail or hand

[[Page 41897]]

delivery/courier, please submit your entity's comment on letterhead.
    You may also write to the Administrator before the comment closing 
date to ask for a public hearing. The Administrator reserves the right 
to determine whether to hold a public hearing.

Confidentiality

    All submitted comments and attachments are part of the public 
record and subject to disclosure. Do not enclose any material in your 
comments that you consider to be confidential or inappropriate for 
public disclosure.

Public Disclosure

    TTB will post, and you may view, copies of this notice, selected 
supporting materials, and any online or mailed comments received about 
this proposal within Docket No. TTB-2013-0008 on the Federal e-
rulemaking portal, Regulations.gov, at http://www.regulations.gov. A 
direct link to that docket is available on the TTB Web site at http://www.ttb.gov/wine/wine-rulemaking.shtml under Notice No. 139. You may 
also reach the relevant docket through the Regulations.gov search page 
at http://www.regulations.gov. For information on how to use 
Regulations.gov, click on the site's ``Help'' tab.
    All posted comments will display the commenter's name, organization 
(if any), city, and State, and, in the case of mailed comments, all 
address information, including email addresses. TTB may omit voluminous 
attachments or material that the Bureau considers unsuitable for 
posting.
    You may also view copies of this notice, all related petitions, 
maps and other supporting materials, and any electronic or mailed 
comments that TTB receives about this proposal by appointment at the 
TTB Information Resource Center, 1310 G Street NW., Washington, DC 
20005. You may also obtain copies at 20 cents per 8.5- x 11-inch page. 
Contact TTB's information specialist at the above address or by 
telephone at 202-453-2270 to schedule an appointment or to request 
copies of comments or other materials.

Regulatory Flexibility Act

    TTB certifies that this proposed regulation, if adopted, would not 
have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small 
entities. The proposed regulation imposes no new reporting, 
recordkeeping, or other administrative requirement. Any benefit derived 
from the use of a viticultural area name would be the result of a 
proprietor's efforts and consumer acceptance of wines from that area. 
Therefore, no regulatory flexibility analysis is required.

Executive Order 12866

    This proposed rule is not a significant regulatory action as 
defined by Executive Order 12866. Therefore, no regulatory assessment 
is required.

Drafting Information

    Karen A. Thornton of the Regulations and Rulings Division drafted 
this proposed rule.

List of Subjects in 27 CFR Part 9

    Wine.

Proposed Regulatory Amendment

    For the reasons discussed in the preamble, TTB proposes to amend 
title 27, chapter I, part 9, Code of Federal Regulations, as follows:

PART 9--AMERICAN VITICULTURAL AREAS

0
1. The authority citation for part 9 continues to read as follows:

    Authority:  27 U.S.C. 205.

Subpart C--Approved American Viticultural Areas

0
2. Subpart C is amended by adding Sec.  9.-------- to read as follows:


Sec.  9.--------  Upper Hiwassee Highlands.

    (a) Name. The name of the viticultural area described in this 
section is ``Upper Hiwassee Highlands''. For purposes of part 4 of this 
chapter, ``Upper Hiwassee Highlands'' is a term of viticultural 
significance.
    (b) Approved maps. The 24 United States Geological Survey 1:24,000 
scale topographic maps used to determine the boundary of the Upper 
Hiwassee Highlands viticultural area are titled:
    (1) Unaka, NC/TN, 1957; photorevised 1978;
    (2) McDaniel Bald, NC/TN, 1957; photoinspected 1976;
    (3) Marble, NC, 1938; photorevised 1990;
    (4) Andrews, NC, 1938; photorevised 1990;
    (5) Topton, NC, 1957; photoinspected 1976;
    (6) Peachtree, NC, 1937; photorevised 1973;
    (7) Hayesville, NC, 1966; photorevised 1978; photoinspected 1987;
    (8) Shooting Creek, NC, 1957; photorevised 1990;
    (9) Rainbow Springs, NC, 1957; photorevised 1978;
    (10) Macedonia, GA/NC, 1988;
    (11) Hightower Bald, GA/NC, 1988;
    (12) Tray Mountain, GA, 1957; photorevised 1985;
    (13) Jacks Gap, GA, 1988;
    (14) Hiawassee, GA/NC, 1988;
    (15) Blairsville, GA/NC, 1988;
    (16) Cowrock, GA, 1988;
    (17) Coosa Bald, GA, 1988;
    (18) Neels Gap, GA, 1988;
    (19) Mulky Gap, GA, 1965;
    (20) Wilscot, GA, 1947;
    (21) Nottely Dam, GA/NC, 1988;
    (22) Culberson, NC/GA, 1988;
    (23) Persimmon Creek, NC, 1957; photorevised 1978; and
    (24) Isabella, TN/NC, 1957; photorevised 1978.
    (c) Boundary. The Upper Hiwassee Highlands viticultural area is 
located in Cherokee and Clay Counties in North Carolina and in Towns, 
Union, and Fannin Counties in Georgia. The boundary of the Upper 
Hiwassee Highlands viticultural area is as follows:
    (1) The beginning point is in Cherokee County, North Carolina, on 
the Unaka map at the intersection of the northwestern end of the 
Hiwassee Dam and an unnamed light-duty road known locally as Hiwassee 
Dam Access Road.
    (2) From the beginning point, proceed northwesterly on Hiwassee Dam 
Access Road approximately 4.2 miles to the road's intersection with an 
unnamed light-duty road known locally as Joe Brown Highway; then
    (3) Proceed northeasterly on Joe Brown Highway approximately 1.4 
miles to the highway's intersection with an unnamed light-duty road 
known locally as Burrell Mountain Road; then
    (4) Proceed east-northeasterly along a straight line (drawn from 
the intersection of Joe Brown Highway and Burrell Mountain Road to the 
peak of Bird Knob) to the point where the line intersects the 2,400-
foot elevation line west of Bird Knob; then
    (5) Proceed initially southerly and then easterly along the 
meandering 2,400-foot elevation line and continue to follow the 
elevation line in an overall clockwise direction through Cherokee and 
Clay Counties, North Carolina, and then Towns and Union Counties, 
Georgia, crossing over as necessary the McDaniel Bald, Marble, Andrews, 
Topton, Peachtree, Hayesville, Shooting Creek, Rainbow Springs, 
Macedonia, Hightower Bald, Tray Mountain, Jacks Gap, Hiwassee, 
Blairsville, Cowrock, Coosa Bald, Neels Gap, and Mulky Gap maps and 
ending on the Wilscot map, to the 2,400-foot elevation line's 
intersection with the Union-Fannin County boundary line at Skeenah Gap; 
then
    (6) Proceed northerly along the meandering Union-Fannin County 
boundary line, crossing over the Mulky Gap and Nottely Dam maps and 
onto the Culberson map, to the summit of High Top Mountain; then

[[Page 41898]]

    (7) Proceed northwesterly in a straight line approximately one mile 
to the intersection of two unnamed light-duty roads known locally as 
Cutcane Road and Mt. Herman Road, near Mt. Herman Church; then
    (8) Proceed northwesterly on Mt. Herman Road approximately one mile 
to the road's intersection with State Spur 60 (Murphy Highway); then
    (9) Proceed southwesterly on State Spur 60 (Murphy Highway) 
approximately 2 miles to the road's intersection with an unnamed light-
duty road known locally as Knollwood Road; then
    (10) Proceed northwesterly in a straight line approximately 1.75 
miles to the summit of Watson Mountain; then
    (11) Proceed northeasterly in a straight line approximately 2.15 
miles, crossing onto the Persimmon Creek map, to the line's 
intersection with the wagon and jeep track at the southern-most summit 
of Vance Mountain in Cherokee County, North Carolina; then
    (12) Proceed north-northwesterly along the wagon and jeep track 
approximately 0.8 mile to the track's intersection with a marked foot 
trail near the 2,200-foot elevation line on the northern spur of Vance 
Mountain; then
    (13) Proceed north-northwesterly along the foot trail approximately 
0.5 mile to the trail's intersection with an unnamed road known locally 
as Wallace Road, and then continue north-northwesterly along Wallace 
Road approximately 0.4 mile to the road's intersection with U.S. 
Highway 64 near Hothouse; then
    (14) Proceed westerly along U.S. Highway 64 approximately one mile 
to the highway's intersection with a marked northerly foot trail at 
Nealy Gap; then
    (15) Proceed northerly along the marked foot trail, briefly 
crossing to and from the Isabella map, to the foot trail's intersection 
with an unnamed unimproved road, and then continue northerly on the 
unimproved road to its intersection with a second unnamed unimproved 
road known locally as Charles Laney Road, a total approximate distance 
of 0.75 mile; then
    (16) Proceed northwesterly on the unnamed unimproved road known 
locally as Charles Laney Road, crossing onto the Isabella map, to the 
road's end, and then continue north-northwesterly on a marked foot 
trail to the trail's intersection with a wagon and jeep track at 
Wolfpen Gap, a total approximate distance of one mile; then
    (17) Proceed easterly and then northeasterly along the wagon and 
jeep trail, crossing onto the Persimmon Creek map, to the 3,284-foot 
benchmark (MLB 1514) on Payne Mountain, then continue northeasterly on 
the wagon and jeep trail (which is partially marked as a foot trail) 
along the ridge line of Payne Mountain to the peak of Harris Top, then 
continue north-northeasterly on the wagon and jeep trail to the peak of 
Beaver Top, a total approximate distance of 2.75 miles; then
    (18) Proceed northeasterly approximately 0.25 mile on the wagon and 
jeep trail to the point where the trail turns sharply to the southeast 
at a summit within the 2,480-foot elevation line on the western 
shoulder of Indian Grave Gap; then
    (19) Proceed north in a straight line approximately 0.95 mile to 
the summit of Canedy Mountain, and then continue north-northwest in a 
straight line approximately 0.45 mile to the line's intersection with 
an unnamed light-duty road known locally as Candy Mountain Road; then
    (20) Proceed east-northeasterly on Candy Mountain Road 
approximately 0.8 mile to the 1,740-foot benchmark (BM HR 116); then
    (21) Proceed northerly in a straight line approximately 1.2 miles 
to the southern-most peak of Ghormley Mountain (within the 2,440-foot 
elevation line); then
    (22) Proceed north-northeast in a straight line approximately 1.3 
miles to the intersection of an unnamed light-duty road known locally 
as Lower Bear Paw Road and an unnamed unimproved road just south of 
Reids Chapel (the chapel is shown along the southern edge of the Unaka 
map); then
    (23) Proceed northerly on Lower Bear Paw Road approximately 0.35 
mile, crossing onto the Unaka map, to the road's intersection with an 
unnamed medium-duty road known locally as Hiwassee Dam Access Road; 
then
    (24) Proceed easterly and then northerly along Hiwassee Dam Access 
Road approximately 2.9 miles, returning to the beginning point at the 
northwestern end of Hiwassee Dam.

    Dated: July 3, 2013.
John J. Manfreda,
Administrator.
[FR Doc. 2013-16725 Filed 7-11-13; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4810-31-P